Consultation shows major opposition to tram

Livingstone to press ahead with scheme dismissing 'unscientific' results

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Contact details of key figures:
Tim Jones, Project Director,

The Mayor of London has announced the results of the West London Tram public consultation - the largest local consultation ever undertaken by Transport for London.

The public consultation showed that over two thirds of respondents who expressed a view on the scheme were opposed to the tram. The percentage against was even higher for those living closer to the Uxbridge Road. Over 17,000 people responded to the consultation.

Despite spending over £1 million on the consultation, Transport for London were dismissing the results and pointing instead to market research which they claim shows overwhelming support for the tram. However, they have allegedly refused to issue details of the questions asked in the research or even the name of the firm that was commissioned to do the work. The Liberal Democrats have asked for details of the market research under the Freedom of Information Act so that they can do their own analysis of the results.

TfL claim that their market research showed that the number of people supporting the tram was three times that opposed to it, with support strongest in Hounslow, Hammersmith and Fulham and Brent. In Hammersmith and Fulham 69% of people interviewed by the market research firm were said to be in favour of the project. In the London Borough of Ealing 39% were said to be in favour with 32% opposed. This contradicts surveys done by the Ealing Gazette which suggested that close to 90% of residents were against the project. TfL are claiming that the people selected to respond to the market research are more representative of West Londoners than those who responded to the public consultation which the Mayor is now describing as unscientific.

The Mayor of London ignored the results of the public consultation saying, “With three times as many people supporting the tram as oppose it (54 per cent compared to 18 per cent) in west London, it is clear that this major transport investment has strong local support. "

He called the consultation process comprehensive and transparent but that significant issues were raised that would need addressing.

Ealing’s Cabinet member for Transport and Planning, Councillor Ray Wall, said, "The feedback from the consultation roadshow was not unexpected, as it has always been the case that those opposed to projects are more active than those in favour. However, the results of the more representative market research have shown yet again that there is majority support for the tram, not only in Ealing but across West London."

Penny Wark a spokesperson for Save Ealing's Streets, a campaign group opposed to the tram accused TfL of insulting the public through its dishonest reporting of the results. She added, "The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has said in the past that if the people of West London do not support the scheme, it will not go ahead. It is strange that Mr Livingstone dismisses his own consultation as ‘unscientific’ when his officers spent several months last year assuring the public that it was entirely scientific,”

Lib Dem Transport Spokesperson, Cllr Gary Malcolm, said: “Looking at TfL’s press release we can see that they only mention the results of the very large public consultation right at the end. Transport for London are therefore trying to hide the truth."

The tram project did not secure funding in the Mayor's multi-billion 5 year transport plan except for minor investigative work and central government is believed to have become lukewarm on light rail projects such as this one following cost overruns and revenue short-falls on similar projects. The West London tram would be the most expensive project of its kind ever undertaken if it proceeds.

March 2, 2005